deixis and deictic

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon Jan 15 14:14:02 UTC 2001


Whuzzup with your syllable divisions today? DIE-ksis ~ DIKE-tick


>At 5:26 PM -0500 1/15/01, susan wrote:
>>Greetings Linguists,
>>Can anyone help me on a definition of the words deixis and deictic?
>>Yes, I have looked them up in the dictionary, but I would like your
>>input on these words. I ran across them in an article
>>explaining the essence of the transformative nature of technology
>>and literacy--or the deictic relationships between them. I begin to
>>see the light, to grasp the meaning and then it skitters away from
>>me! I am getting frustrated! Also, can you suggest the proper
>>pronunciation for these words?
>>Thank you all very, very much.
>>Susan Gilbert
>><mailto:mssmith at>mssmith at
>As used in the philosophy of language and linguistic pragmatics,
>deixis refers to the phenomenon of linguistic expressions whose
>reference is determined (at least in part) by the context of
>utterance.  Classic examples of deictic expressions include
>"shifters" like I, you, he, she, here, now, yesterday, ago, and so
>on, but also definite descriptions (the President of the U.S.) and
>tensed verbs.  "Deixis" and "deictic(s)" come from the Greek word
>for pointing, and often a distinction is made between deictic and
>anaphoric uses of pronouns, e.g. "They're winning the game"
>(pointing to the Giants, or to their image on TV) vs. I bet on the
>Giants, and sure enough they're winning the game".  Others would say
>that anaphora is in fact a special case of deixis, where the
>"pointing" works via the discourse context.  The usual pronunciation
>['daiksIs] (DIE-ksis)
>['daiktIk] (DIKE-tick)
>larry horn

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736
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